Interview with Noel Maurice about books, albums and methods

noel maurice, author of the berlin diaries

ib: So Noel. First off, you’ve written a book, The Berlin Diaries. Which of course we’ve been running in serial form on indieberlin. Now we’re not running it. Why?

NM: A friend of a friend who moves in publishing circles said that he’d take it round the publishers for us but that we had to stop publishing bits of it online for the moment while he did that.

ib:  Ah. OK. And when will we hear if anything comes of that?

NM: You’ll be the first to hear, I promise!

ib: OK. And it’s about….

NM: Yeah. My memoirs. My first few years in Berlin.

ib: Which was a while ago now.

NM: Yeah, haha. Beginning of the nineties.

ib: So the book is about…

NM: Yeah. The first days of Tacheles and all that…I think the first people started squatting there a little under a year before I turned up. It’s quite interesting, that time, and I think still relevant, I’ve read someone say that the scene as it is now is a direct result of what happened then, so it’s nice to feel that I was there at the beginning of everything.

ib: And it was quite a wild time to all intents and purposes.

NM: True. Things did get a little out of hand every now and then.

ib: Okay. And you’ve watched the city change quite a lot, I imagine.

NM: Yeah, it’s really a completely different place now…and it’s gone through countlessv versions of itself along the way. And of course it’s no longer a well kept secret anymore, it’s turning into quite the booming metropolis.

ib: Do you find that a positive or negative thing?

NM: Both to honest. It was nice in the old days, because the scene was a bit smaller, and of course you had that delicious feeling of being in on the secret. And the rents were a hell of a lot cheaper. But at the same time, all these new creative people turning up especially from the uk and the us has injected a huge amount of energy into the place, there’s a better kind of work ethic, more competition is always good for art…and also the quality of what goes on here artistically has really shot up.

ib:  it’s been a while since your last studio album, and two years since your last live album, what have you been up to?

NM: After allen devine, who was playing guitar with me, went back to the us, I decided it was a good point to stand back and take a break. I’d been getting a bit bored with the style of music….conventional four piece…and I wanted to try something different. It was never really the intention to wait so long before making another album, but shit happens.

ib: And is there a new album coming up?

NM: Well….Berlin independent label monster musik agreed to put out my next album, that we would record in their studio…but then they got flooded out and we’re waiting until they get a new space before we go forward with that. Meantime I’m recording an acoustic album in my home studio to go out hopefully in time for Xmas. Which fits more to my new concept really….

ib: New concept?

NM: Yeah, after splitting the band up I decided to do a kind of dogma approach, like Lars Von Trier did with his films…establish rigid ground rules of how the films would be made so that he didn’t get tempted to lose track of the story…so I thought, in line with my DIY ethos, I decided to make and record music in a way that took as its limits my own practical limitations, ie no band, so more solo…no money to rent a studio or money to pay a drummer, so either drum loops or percussion….I feel that I’ve put out so little music over the years because I was lacking the wherewithal to make it, so it didn’t get made…so I decided that I would just work within my limitations, so if it’s a solo guitar with some beats and the voice is recorded on an inexpensive mic, then that’s relevant because it reflects the reality…

ib: Dogma music then.

NM: Yup….then Steff (Jungen) came along and messed it up by offering to play drums and record in the studio…

ib: Very mean.

NM: Haha. Yeah. The bastard….anyway, then that was slated for summer but then circumstances changed again and now I find myself sitting here waiting for that. So I’ve decided meanwhile to go back to the dogma approach.

ib: Well thanks. We look forward to reading The Berlin Diaries and wish you well with the recordings. Will we hear a new album before Christmas?

NM:  Maybe not a whole new album but I might put something out that will br more a collection of new and older stuff that people may not have heard.

ib: Ah! A stocking filler!

NM: Yup!

ib: Thanks for talking to us.

NM: Pleasure!

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